Saturday, January 12, 2013

Professional Sales Interview Dress Code Survey Results

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As you might know, PHC Consulting is a leading medical sales recruiting firm. In our continuing efforts to keep our candidates at the front of the line for job offers in health care sales, we sent out a survey to a large group of medical sales managers on job interview attire. We wanted some hard data on "What are hiring managers really thinking about what job seekers wear?"

It's a critical issue for job seekers, since interview attire has a profound effect on how the hiring manager sees you and your skills, and therefore directly impacts your success in landing the offer. Not only can your attire affect their hiring decision, it can also have an impact on what salary they offer you.
Here's what they had to say:

For female job seekers, it's finally OK to wear pants.
Over 78% of hiring managers say that your choice of a skirted suit or a pants suit has no effect on their hiring decision. About a third of hiring managers prefer female candidates to wear a skirted suit (the rest have no preference), but the vast majority of comments indicated that they just want candidates to look professional and be comfortable in their clothes so that they're not adjusting or fidgeting. (And a skirt that's too short is always worse than a pants suit.)

Don't underestimate the power of your shoes.
Almost 60% of hiring managers reported that a candidate's shoes are something they notice: whether they're polished and well-taken care of is important. For female candidates, a heel that's too high can create a negative impression.

Men, you need to wear a suit (and tie).
Although some managers would be OK with a male candidate wearing pants with a coordinating jacket, almost 53% strongly prefer that he show up in a suit. The prevailing opinion is that the suit shows respect and the level of serious professionalism you'll bring to the job. And ties are not negotiable: 90% of managers expect you to wear a conservative tie.
Side note: Most managers won't ever tell you to wear business casual, but if they do, you better show you can follow instructions.

The details matter.
The vast majority of hiring managers notice a candidate's portfolio and jewelry (over 90%). Think simple and understated. While they don't appreciate strong perfume or cologne, most managers (64%) say that it doesn't affect their hiring decision.

Watch the hair!
For men, facial hair affects 82% of the managers' evaluations of candidates. Males especially need to lose the "creative" beards (like goatees). Candidates have lost jobs over this. If you must keep a mustache or beard, it's very important that it be clean, trimmed, and well-maintained.

For women, hair length doesn't matter as long as it's also clean, well-maintained, and polished.
Here's your takeaway from all this: Overall, hiring managers are looking for candidates who are conservatively dressed, professionally polished, and mindful of the details like having your clothes ironed and shoes shined. (Looking reasonably current with fashion trends is a good thing, too-it helps them take you seriously and indicates you're up on other current information.)

Not only are hiring managers evaluating you for how well you'll represent the company, they see that the level of attention you pay to the details of your appearance as evidence of how you'll manage the details of the job. (In other words, if you can't even dress yourself well for the interview, they won't feel safe in offering you the job, no matter what you say.) Take care with your appearance so that it reinforces your skills and experience, and you'll go a long way toward getting the offer.


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